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David Coolidge

Elections Show Need
for a Labor Party!

(30 October 1944)

From Labor Action, Vol. 8 No. 44, 30 October 1944, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

In his speech to the Foreign Policy Association last Saturday evening, President Roosevelt promised that the German people would not be enslaved by the conquering, victorious Anglo-American allies. The reason given by Mr. Roosevelt for not establishing slavery in Germany was: “the United Nations do not believe in slavery.” Now, since it is clear that in using the word “slavery,” the President was not talking about actual chattel slavery but a form of military rule that would deny democratic right and national independence to the German people, it is important that the working class examine this statement of the President.

He said further that the German people would be given the opportunity, by their conquerors, to climb the steep ascent back into the family of democratic nations. Their rehabilitation would be assisted by taking one burden off their backs: the German people, according to Mr. Roosevelt, will not have to bear arms while they make the ascent. Not only will this assistance be given the Germans immediately following the end of the war, but the attempt will be made to see to it that they never have to bear arms again.

This is something for labor in the United States to think about. If the Germans are kept from having arms someone will have to be armed to enforce this prohibition. Who can this someone be except workers in the United States and England, their sons and their grandsons. The United States is to remain a military camp. Millions of workers are to be retained for years in a permanent standing army. Universal conscription will prevail and every boy as he reaches a certain age will be compelled to take his turn at the job of keeping arms out of the hands of the German and Japanese people.

Mr. Roosevelt did not discuss just how this scheme will work. Suppose the German people should decide that they prefer to make the decision for themselves as to whether or not they want munitions factories and a large army. Suppose one of the “allies” of today, say England or Russia, should decide next year or five years from now that her interests no longer coincide with the decision of today on disarming Germany. What would Mr. Roosevelt or Mr. Dewey and the Republican and Democratic Parties have to offer then?

They would do precisely what imperialists always do when their national and imperialist interests are placed in peril. They would do exactly what they aid in 1918 and in 1941. They would take the country and the working class into the Third Imperialist World War.

This is what is being prepared today. This is the only meaning that can be given to Roosevelt’s speech on relieving the German people of the burden of bearing arms. This would be true whether the President at the time was Roosevelt or Dewey, whether the party in power was the Republican or Democratic Party. And this in fact is what every worker will be voting for on November 7 if he casts a ballot for Roosevelt or Dewey, for the Republican Party or the Democratic Party.

What Labor Faces

The necessary domestic policy to fit into the post-war plans of the capitalist ruling class will require a blow at the unions. For the capitalists to get the full measure of profit and plunder, wage reductions wall be necessary in the United States. If you want to reduce wages it is necessary first to weaken or wreck the unions.

Civil liberties and democratic rights carinot be allowed to nourish in a period when the ruling class is out to ransack the whole world, to maintain a huge military establishment, to increase profits, to place the biggest part of the burden on the working class and make them foot the bill. The unions and the working class will resent these encroachments by the capitalist ruling class. All the imperialists know this, whether they are led by Roosevelt or Dewey, the Republican Party or the Democratic Party.

The working class cannot escape this fate unless they are politically organized. The road to political organization of the working class does not lead to the ballot boxes of the two capitalist parties, the parties of Roosevelt and Dewey. The path to political and organizational independence of the working class does not end in any capitalist party but in a class party of labor: a mass party of all the toilers, from the mines, mills and factories, the ships, the fields and the forests.

The Workers Party has long advocated that labor form such a party, a mass labor party based on the trade unions. Of course, such a party cannot be formed before November 7. But this is no reason to vote for Roosevelt or Dewey, the Democratic or the Republican Parties. Why vote for our enemies just because we have been too slow in getting our own party started. Let’s fight, organize and plan TODAY for our own Labor Party. Let’s agitate on November 7 for a party of our own. Not a worker’s vote for Roosevelt! Not a worker’s vote for Dewey!

Two “Socialist” Candidates

It is necessary to comment briefly on two other parties that will be on the ballot on November 7. They are the Socialist Party and the Socialist Labor Party. The former is the party of Norman Thomas and he is the party candidate for President. The Socialist Party says that it is for “democratic socialism,” “social ownership,” and many other grand and noble things that all decent human beings want to see achieved. We have to remark, however, that so far as we know there is only one kind of socialism and that is the socialism of the founders of scientific socialism, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Socialism is democracy for the reason that in a socialist state the government would represent the majority and not, as in the case of a Roosevelt or Dewey government, the small minority of capitalists and their hangers-on. If a party believes in socialism and the struggle for socialism there is no need to talk about “democratic” socialism, because the heart of socialism is the establishment of genuine democracy and not the fake capitalist democracy of the ruling class and its two parties.

On the point of practical politics for labor, it is necessary to say that a vote for the Socialist Party is a vote for a party that has no roots among the masses, no influence in the labor movement, no adequate program for the problems of labor and which has given no clear indication on how it will achieve what meager and shadowy aims it has announced. The Socialist Party is a confused, semi-pacifist, impotent sect that has not yet been able to take a clear and unequivocal stand against the imperialist war. It is for and against the war; it is for and against peace now.

The Socialist Labor Party is also on the ballot. It represents the utmost in futility, senility and sectarian impotence. For years this diminishing sect had one simple slogan and one only: “capitalism must be destroyed.” For decades they have declared ultimatums in every issue of their paper, for the “unconditional surrender of capitalism.” In the program of this sect it is a waste of time for workers to fight in their unions for “immediate demands,” for “capitalism must be destroyed.” They turn their backs to the labor movement, refuse to carry on a fight for the day-to-day interests of the workers.

Evidently the SLP decided this year that the way to secure the unconditional surrender of capitalism was to invoke the U.S. Constitution. They say in their platform: “the Constitution of the United States provides for its own amendment. The Constitution thereby recognizes and legalizes revolution. The working class, the majority, holds the government in the hollow of its hand. We propose accordingly, that the revolutionary change be effected by the peaceful and civilized means of the ballot.”

The Workers Party believes that Capitalism is a rotten, exploitive and misery-creating Social Order. Capitalism is the perpetrator of imperialist war, colonial slavery and oppression of the working class. But to rid the world of capitalism and imperialism requires the mass political organization of the working Class. This can never be accomplished so long as the overwhelming mass of the workers support the Republican and Democratic Parties and vote for their candidates. That is why the Workers Party proposes the mass independent Labor Party to effect the beginnings of political thinking and class political organization of the workers. That is why the Workers Party enjoins labor to stay away from the polls on November 7 and to use the time in agitation for labor’s own party.

We say again: Not a worker’s vote for Roosevelt or Dewey!

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Last updated: 18 February 2016